Hi, Kay--

Did anybody answer your question?

Most of our birds got named originally back in the days before 
binoculars, when people had to shoot them (delicately called 
"collecting") and then examine them in the hand.  So things that 
were obvious distinguishing marks close up tended to determine 
the names, even though you can't see them at all from a little 
distance.  Without optics, you couldn't see much of anything from 
a little distance on smaller birds.  Another notorious example is 
the Ring-Necked Duck, whose neck ring is only visible when it's 
doing its energetic courtship display, but a dead bird in the 
hand would have its head and neck flopping down, so the ring 
would be very obvious.

Anyway, with the sapsucker, so many woodpeckers have various 
combinations of black and white and red that I'm sure the little 
bit of yellow feathering deep in the belly feathers was what 
stood out as a distinguishing mark to those early folks. 
Red-Bellied Woodpecker is the same, btw.  The red is deep 
underneath the belly feathers and you only see it when the bird 
is flying towards you to land on a branch or a feeder against a 
stiff gust of wind that blows the light buffy outer feathers aside.

I love sapsuckers, but living out among farm fields, the closest 
I get to them is the neat little rows of holes I find drilled in 
some of my firewood!


Kay Johnson wrote:

> First time seen on our property and thus FOY yellow-bellied
> sapsucker.  He was was taping on the metal flashing on the
> edge of our garage roof.  I went to see if the downspout had
> fallen off or something when I heard the tapping noise. At
> first glance I thought it was one of the hairy woodpeckers in
> unusual behavior and then took another look. With a solid
> look, it was clear from red on head and throat that this was a
> yellow-bellied sapsucker male.  Hope he will take up residence
> in our woods.
> Can anyone explain the common name? Why emphasize the yellow
> when the red is most obvious color? Is there yellow on the
> belly that is not noticeable?
> Rob and Kay in Hinesburg
> -----Original Message----- From: L. W. <[log in to unmask]> 
> To: [log in to unmask] Sent: Fri, Apr 9, 2010 6:02 pm 
> Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] VTBIRD Digest - 6 Apr 2010 to 7 Apr 2010
> (#2010-98)
> We have had a juvenile yellow-bellied sapsucker on a birch in
> our yard in the Shelburne Rd area of South Burlington for the
> past half-hour or so. Nice yard bird!
> Laurel Williams